The 47th Annual United States Senate Youth Program kicked off in the nation’s capital March 7.
The week-long event brings two students from each state who hold a leadership positionon a student council or similar organization into Washinton. The USSYP Annual Senate Reception will be held March 11 in the Senate Caucus Room. During the reception, the students will meet and talk to their senators as well as receive a $5,000 scholarship.
According to the USSYP Website, “The mission of the United States Senate Youth Program is to provide a yearly opportunity for selected students to gain an in-depth view of the Senate and federal government overall as well as a deeper understanding of the legislative, judicial and executive branches.”
Military officers from each branch of service are assigned to the students as a mentor during Washington Week. The process for becoming a military mentor is competitive, and there is only one first lieutenant, one captain and one major selected from each branch of service.
“The military members participate in this civic outreach program as ‘ambassadors’ of the military services,” said Cynthia Minnick, senior assistant for policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense. “More and more young Americans tend to have little or no experience with our military or insight into national security issues.”
Mentor’s responsibilities include monitoring the students daily activities, making sure the students are where they need to be and imparting the etiquette needed around government officials.
“It is truly an honor,” said 1st Lt. Caleb D. Eames, public affairs officer for Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, Ga. “They only pick those that they feel will be able to do a good job. I hope to be able to live up to that standard.”
Eames said he also views mentoring as an opportunity to invest time and energy with the future of the nation, and to show high school students that many preconceived notions they have about the military may not be accurate.
Officers are required to have permissive temporary assigned duty orders or be on leave status so that none of the expense falls on the government. The Hearst Foundation will cover hotel costs, food and dry cleaning only during the dates of the program. Any outside expenses, including two days training prior to the USSYP beginning, are the responsibility of the officer, according to Marine Administrative Message 677/08.
The USSYP, which was established in 1962 by Resolution 324, is sponsored by the Senate but needs no government funding as it has been fully funded by the Hearst Foundation since its inception. The co-chairs each year are the Senate majority and minority leaders and the vice president.
More information on the program can be found at www.ussenateyouth.org or at www.hearstfnd.org/ussyp/home.